Bragg’s Match is live!
Today’s the day Brody has been waiting for. Since the first time Brody caught sight of Soleil, he’s wanted her. Except she called him a child and laughed as she walked away. Brody wasn’t discouraged. Nope. In fact, he declared it was ‘Game on!’
But then someone (it might have been me) said the other Bragg brothers were getting their happy-ever-afters first. Brody was not happy with me. Not in the least. There was a lot of talk about how the babies in the family need to stick together. I was not to be swayed, however! I made him wait.
Patience is a virtue, Brody Bragg!
He – rightfully – pointed out I haven’t been patient a day in my life. Silly man. He should have known how difficult I could make his life.
Soleil – a woman who’s too dang tired to deal with the shenanigans of a man-child
I yawn as I shuffle to the kitchen. What a long freaking day. My back aches from sitting behind my pottery wheel for ten straight hours. I stop in front of the refrigerator and raise my hands in the air to stretch out my muscles before I open the door.
I scream at all of the tiny creatures in the fridge staring back at me before I slam the door closed and lean against it to trap whatever’s in there.
The front door of the house flies open and Brody freaking Bragg sprints inside. Brody is a new resident in my hometown of Winter Falls. He moved here a few months ago with his brothers.
Since three of his brothers have found love with three of my friends, Brody and I have been hanging out together as the two unattached friends. I thought it was better than being a third-wheel, but now I’m not too sure.
“What’s going on?” He doesn’t even bother to attempt to hide his smirk.
My body switches from scared out of my mind to irritated in a flash. Brody may be a friend but he’s also a prankster who can’t be trusted. “What did you do?”
He bats his eyelashes. “What are you talking about?”
I clench my jaw and wave my hand toward the fridge. At least I know there aren’t any creatures in there. Just another Brody prank. “You know exactly what I mean.”
He smiles. “It’s my welcoming gift to you.”
“Welcoming gift? Why would you give me a welcoming gift? What are you talking about?”
“I’m your new roomie.” He takes a bow.
I cross my arms over my chest. “Roomie? You aren’t my roommate.”
“Sure, I am.” He motions toward the suitcases and boxes near the front door.
“What the hell?” I stomp toward the stuff. “What makes you think you can move in here without discussing it with me first?”
“Crap,” he mutters as he runs a hand through his lush hair.
No, not lush hair. Nothing about Brody is lush or beautiful or sexy. Not his sparkling blue eyes I want to drown in. Not his perfect smile with the barest hint of a dimple on his left cheek. Not his broad shoulders that appear strong enough to carry the weight of the world on them.
Okay, fine. He’s hot. He’s also a man-child. And I’m way too old to be interested in him. No matter what my body thinks. My mind knows better. I don’t need another person to look after. I’ve got enough on my plate as it is.
“Explain.” I motion toward the suitcases.
“I think I’ve been pranked,” he mutters.
I slap my hand over my mouth before my laughter can escape. Brody – the prankster to end all pranksters – got pranked? This is precious.
“What happened?” I ask once I manage to get my humor under control.
“My brother, Elder, kicked me out of his house. He said you have room for me.”
I can’t blame Elder for kicking him out of his house since his wife, Harmony, and her baby niece just moved in with him. Those two deserve their happily ever after considering all the heartbreak my friend Harmony has suffered in her life.
I wish I could find my happily ever after but I’ve resigned myself to be the best aunt this world has ever seen of the children my friends have.
“Elder didn’t discuss you staying here with me.” And I will be having words with him.
“I’m not any happier about this than you are. I don’t understand why I couldn’t stay at Elder’s. I sleep on the sofa. I’m not using up any space they need.”
I raise an eyebrow. “You want to live with your brother and his family?”
His nose wrinkles. “No, but where else am I supposed to live?”
I cross my arms over my chest. “You could stay at Harmony’s place. It’s empty now. And I know she offered.”
“I’m allergic to dogs.”
“You have three brothers. Why can’t you live with one of them?”
“Correction. I have four brothers and a half-brother. All of whom are avoiding me.”
All of whom are smarter than me. Note to self: Lock my doors from now on.
“How about this? You could – and I understand this is a novel concept for you – find a place of your own?”
His lip curls. “A place of my own?”
“It’s simple. You search for a rental house. You sign a lease. You pay your rent. You have a place to live.”
He does a mock shiver. “Sounds horrible.”
“This is why I don’t want you to live here. You’re immature and childish.”
He scowls. “I’m not a child. I’m thirty-years old.”
“And yet you’re couch surfing. Real mature.”
He smirks. “But I’m done couch surfing now. Rumor has it you have a spare bedroom.”
“And you thought putting googly eyes on everything in my refrigerator would be the best way to appeal to me?”
He chuckles. “Got you.”
Got me? Is he out of his mind?
“Do you think I want to live with someone who scares the crap out of me on a regular basis?”
He rolls his eyes. “You can’t still be mad about the ghost.”
“I can’t still be mad about the ghost?” I lean forward and hiss at him. “I can be mad about whatever I want to be mad about.”
“But I saved you.”
“After you scared me half to death dressing up as a ghost and prancing around in front of my living room window.”
“Admit it. You thought my ghost was sexy.”
“Are you crazy?” He opens his mouth to answer but I throw up a hand to stop him. “No. Don’t answer. I don’t want to hear it.” I blow out a breath. “It’s been a long ass day. I don’t have the energy to deal with whatever this is right now.”
He frowns. “Sit down. Put your feet up. I’ll get you something to drink and you can relax.”
“I was trying to get something to drink when I opened the fridge to discover it was full of creatures.”
He sighs. “I guess you won’t be thanking me for my ‘thank you for letting me live here’ present.”
“If this is how you thank people, I want nothing to do with it.”
“Understood. No googly eyes on items in the fridge for as long as I’m living here.”
I narrow my eyes on him. “I never said you could live here.”
“But where else am I going to live?” He pouts.
“Why is this my problem?” I mutter.
I don’t know why I’m surprised. I’m the one who’s always taking care of everyone’s problems. Naturally, his brother and my friend Harmony sent him to me. They knew I’d take care of him. The way I always take care of everyone.
But the last thing I need at the moment is another person to take care of. I’m busy as hell getting ready for the Litha festival in July, which is less than a month away.
This is my busiest season. My small town of Winter Falls attracts tourists from all over during the summer with its festivals. In addition to teaching pottery classes to the tourists, I sell an absolute ton of pottery. I need to make certain I have enough stock available to sell.
And it’s not as if I can purchase stock online. No, each piece of pottery I sell is one-hundred percent unique. Between creating the piece, decorating it, firing the clay, glazing, and the glaze fire, I need at least three and a half weeks to create each piece.
Brody grasps my hands and I come out of my reverie. “How can I help you, Soleil?”
His thumbs rub against my inner wrists. My skin warms and goosebumps threaten to break out. Oh no. This can’t be happening. I can’t be attracted to Brody.
I yank my hands away. “You can help by not pulling stupid pranks to scare the crap out of me.”
He shoves his hands in his pockets and rocks back on his heels with a huge smile on his face. “You admit my pranks rock.”
“I didn’t say—” I cut myself off. I’m not discussing his stupid pranks. “I’m serious. I don’t have time for this.” I check my watch. “I need to get a few hours of sleep before I get back to work.”
“Say no more. I will detain you no longer. Kindly show me where the bedroom I’ll be occupying is and I won’t bother you any longer.”
I frown. “I love how you assume you’re going to stay here.”
He clutches his chest. “Ah. You love me. I care for you too, Soleil.”
I consider my options. I can argue with Brody about him staying here. But I don’t have time for his shenanigans. Or I can find him another place to stay. Unfortunately, I can’t think of anyone who has room for him right now.
Damn. It appears I have no choice.
“Come on. I’ll show you to your room.”
“Awesome! You won’t regret it.”
“I already regret it.”
He ignores me. “I’ll be the best roommate you can imagine. I don’t have parties. Well, except for when my brothers come over for poker night. But don’t worry. We won’t bother you. I’ll plan it on a night when you’re out with your girls. And I’ll—”
I hold up my hand. I already know he’s going to be a terrible roommate. No matter how much he claims to the contrary.
“This is your room.” I open the door to my spare bedroom and usher him inside.
He bounces on his toes. “I get a bed. Awesome! Elder, my least favorite brother, didn’t give me a bed.”
“I need to get some sleep. Try to keep it down,” I say as I make my way down the hall.
“Where’s your bedroom?”
“I have my own bathroom,” I say as I open the door to my bedroom. “You can use the bathroom in the hallway.”
“Aw, shucks. Does this mean there’s no chance of me bumping into a skimpy robe-wearing Soleil in the hallway?”
His words conjure up thoughts of him sauntering through the hallway with a towel wrapped around his waist. I wonder how those broad shoulders look without a shirt. I wonder…
I cut those thoughts off. There will be no fantasizing about Brody. I have no interest in a man-child who still couch surfs instead of finding his own place to live.
“Sleep tight, roomie. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
“Whatever,” I murmur as I shut my bedroom door behind me.